Quakerism and the rising climate justice movement

“Quakerism and the rising climate justice movement” is the title of an interesting article from the Quaker Faith in Action newsletter of Britain Yearly Meeting, April 2019.

Climate justice has been on people’s minds this month thanks to the rising climate justice movement. Schoolchildren across the UK took part in the third #YouthStrike4Climate, Extinction Rebellion shut down central London for a week to draw attention to the climate crisis, and Greta Thunberg visited Britain.
It will not be a surprise that Quakers have been involved in these important events, with young Quakers taking part in the school strike, two meetings for worship held at Extinction Rebellion’s London shutdown, and Quakers in Britain hosting Greta for a sold-out talk at Friends House.
At least seven Quakers have arrested at Extinction Rebellion nonviolent direct actions, with hundreds supporting them online and through prayer. Those arrested include: Peter Griffin; Ian Bray of Brighouse West Yorkshire AM; Leslie Tate of Luton and Leighton AM; Ruth Leonard- Williams of Ashburton Quaker Meeting; Sue Hampton of Berkhamsted Meeting; Jo Robins of Nailsworth meeting; and Jan Scott of Kingsbridge Quaker Meeting.

Quaker Faith and Action, Britain Yearly Meeting

I was interested that the newsletter encouraged those who were arrested to inform Meeting for Sufferings. Having our own Meting for Sufferings is an idea I have been interested in.

We encourage any other Quakers who were arrested to inform Meeting for Sufferings by emailing the dedicated address, sufferings@quaker.org.uk, with as much accurate information as possible – for example, names, Area Meetings, dates, charges, and sentence.

Quaker Faith and Action, Britain Yearly Meeting

In 2014, three Quaker organisations (QUNO, FCNL and QEW) published this statement entitled ‘Facing the challenge of climate change’.

“It would go a long way to caution and direct people in their use of the world, that they were better studied and knowing in the Creation of it. For how could [they] find the confidence to abuse it, while they should see the great Creator stare them in the face, in all and every part of it?”

William Penn, 1693

As Quakers, we are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole Earth, in right sharing with all peoples. We recognize a moral duty to cherish Creation for future generations.
We call on our leaders to make the radical decisions needed to create a fair, sufficient and effective international climate change agreement.
As Quakers, we understand anthropogenic climate change (climate change due to human activities) to be a symptom of a greater challenge: how to live sustainably and justly on this Earth.
We recognize that the current rise of greenhouse gas emissions is leading to an unprecedented rate of increase in global average surface temperature of extreme detriment to the Earth’s ecosystems and species, including human beings.
We recognize that catastrophic global climate change is not inevitable if we choose to act urgently.
We recognize a personal and collective responsibility to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable peoples now, and all our future generations, do not suffer as a consequence of our actions. We see this as a call to conscience.
We recognize the connections between climate change and global economic injustice as well as unprecedented levels of consumption, and question assumptions of unlimited material growth on a planet with limited natural resources.
We recognize that most anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are created by fossil fuel combustion. We recognize that our increasing population continues to pursue fossil fuel-dependent economic growth. We recognize that the Earth holds more fossil fuel reserves than are safe to burn, and that the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change. We therefore question profoundly the continued investment in, and subsidizing of, fossil fuel extraction.
We seek to nurture a global human society that prioritizes the well-being of people over profit, and lives in right relationship with our Earth; a peaceful world with fulfilling employment, clean air and water, renewable energy, and healthy thriving communities and ecosystems.
As members of this beautiful human family, we seek meaningful commitments from our leaders and ourselves, to address climate change for our shared future, the Earth and all species, and the generations to come. We see this Earth as a stunning gift that supports life. It is our only home. Let us care for it together.

A Shared Quaker Statement: Facing the Challenge of Climate Change

There is a portal for Quaker climate action across the globe at: Quakers and Climate Change Worldwide.

On that website is a page of Actions from Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). That page should be expanded to included the work of other monthly meetings, such as Decorah’s installation of solar panels.

Following is the Ethical Transportation Minute approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in 2017.

Radically reducing fossil fuel use has long been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). A previously approved Minute urged us to reduce our use of personal automobiles. We have continued to be challenged by the design of our communities that makes this difficult. This is even more challenging in rural areas. But our environmental crisis means we must find ways to address this issue quickly.
Friends are encouraged to challenge themselves and to simplify their lives in ways that can enhance their spiritual environmental integrity. One of our meetings uses the term “ethical transportation,” which is a helpful way to be mindful of this.
Long term, we need to encourage ways to make our communities “walkable”, and to expand public transportation systems. These will require major changes in infrastructure and urban planning.
Carpooling and community shared vehicles would help. We can develop ways to coordinate neighbors needing to travel to shop for food, attend meetings, visit doctors, etc. We could explore using existing school buses or shared vehicles to provide intercity transportation.
One immediately available step would be to promote the use of bicycles as a visible witness for non-fossil fuel transportation. Friends may forget how easy and fun it can be to travel miles on bicycles. Neighbors seeing families riding their bicycles to Quaker meetings would have an impact on community awareness. This is a way for our children to be involved in this shared witness. We should encourage the expansion of bicycle lanes and paths. We can repair and recycle unused bicycles, and make them available to those who have the need.

Ethical Transportation Minute
Approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2017
This entry was posted in bicycles, civil disobedience, climate change, Ethical Transportation, Keystone Pledge of Resistance, Quaker, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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